Current Affairs Analysis

8th May 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Vande Bharat Mission; AYUSH Sanjivani Application; Modifications in PMRF Scheme; Prime Minister’s Research Fellows Scheme (PMRF); Styrene gas leakage incident in Vizag; Styrene gas; Para-tertiary butylcatechol (PTBC); Safeguards to Chemical Disasters; Surging glaciers in Karakoram Range; Karakoram Range; Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore; ICUBE report: active internet users surge in Rural India; NSafe Mask; etc.
By IASToppers
May 08, 2020


Issues related to Health and Education

  • AYUSH Sanjivani Application
  • Modifications in PMRF Scheme

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Styrene gas leakage incident in Vizag
  • Safeguards to Chemical Disasters

Geographical Phenomenon

  • Surging glaciers in Karakoram Range

Persons in News

  • Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

Also in News

  • Vande Bharat Mission
  • ICUBE report: active internet users surge in Rural India

Key Facts for Prelims

  • NSafe Mask

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Issues related to Health and Education

AYUSH Sanjivani Application

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has launched the ‘AYUSH Sanjivani’ App  and two AYUSH based studies related to COVID-19 situation recently.

AYUSH Sanjivani’ App:

  • The mobile app will help to generate data on acceptance and usage of AYUSH advocacies and measures among the population and its impact in prevention of COVID 19.
  • It is developed by the Ministry of AYUSH and MEITY and shall reach out to a target of 50 lakh people.
  • These organisations are joining hands, being supported and guided by ICMR and DCGI in propagating the wholesomeness and holistic health benefits of the age-old traditional medicinal knowledge of Ayurveda.

The following studies were formally launched in the programme:

1. Clinical research studies on Ayurveda interventions as prophylaxis and as an add-on to standard care to COVID 19:

  • Collaborative clinical studies as a joint initiative of Ministry of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Science & Technology through Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) with technical support of ICMR.
  • The Interdisciplinary Ayush R&D Task Force has formulated and designed clinical research protocols for prophylactic studies and add-on interventions in COVID-19 positive cases.
  • It will be done through thorough review and consultative process of experts of high repute from different organisations across the country for studying four different interventions viz. Ashwagandha, Yashtimadhu, Guduchi +Pippali and a poly herbal formulation (AYUSH-64)
  1. Ashwagandha for the Prophylaxes Against SARS-COV-2 in subjects with increased risk during the COVID 19 Pandemic: A comparison with Hydroxychloroquine in the health care providers and
  2. Effectiveness of Ayurveda Formulation as an adjunct to ‘Standard of Care’ for the Treatment of Mild to Moderate COVID-19: A Randomized, Open Label, Parallel Efficacy, Active Control, Multi-Centre Exploratory Drug Trial.

2. Population based interventional studies on impact of AYUSH based prophylactic interventions: 

  • The ministry of AYUSH is initiating population based studies to study the impact of Ayurvedic Interventions in prevention of COVID-19 infection in high risk populations.
  • The core objectives consist of assessment of preventive potential of AYUSH interventions for COVID 19 and also to assess the improvement in Quality of Life in high risk populations.
  • The study will be carried out through four Research Councils under the Ministry of AYUSH and National Institutes in 25 states across the country and several State Governments covering approximately 5 lakhs population.
  • The outcome of the study would certainly pave a new horizon in understanding the preventive potential of AYUSH interventions during pandemics like COVID 19 through scientific evidence.
[Ref: PIB]

Modifications in PMRF Scheme

The Ministry of Human Resource Development has announced amendments in the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme.

Aim: To boost the spirit of research in the country.

Major Highlights:

  • After the amendments, for the students from any recognised institute/ university (other than IISc/ IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIEST/CF IIITs), the requirement of GATE Score is reduced to 650 from 750 apart from minimum CGPA of 8 or equivalent.
  • There will be two channels of entries, one direct entry and lateral entry.
  • In lateral entry, the students, who are pursuing PhD in PMRF granting institutions (completed 12 months or 24 months as per certain requirements) can also apply to become fellow under the scheme as per new guidelines.
  • The NITs, which appear in top 25 institutions as per NIRF Ranking can also become PMRF Granting institution.
  • The Minister hoped  that  the modifications would enable more students to avail of the benefit under the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme.

Research and Innovation Division:

  • To boost research a dedicated Division is being created in the ministry with the name of “Research and Innovation Division”.
  • This division will be headed by a director who will be coordinating research work of various institutions coming under MHRD.

Prime Minister’s Research Fellows Scheme:

  • The PMRF Scheme has been designed for improving the quality of research in various higher educational institutions in the country.
  • With attractive fellowships, the scheme seeks to attract the best talent into research thereby realizing the vision of development through innovation.
  • The scheme was announced in the Budget 2018-19.
  • The institutes which can offer PMRF include all the IITs, all the IISERs, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru and some of the top Central Universities/NITs that offer science and/or technology degrees.
  • The metrics of the candidates are judged (but not restricted to) by a strong research proposal, publications record and grades & publication in reputed journals/conferences.
[Ref: PIB]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Styrene gas leakage incident in Vizag

A catastrophic incident of Styrene gas leakage has occurred in a chemical plant at Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

What is the issue?

  • An unfortunate incident of Styrene gas leakage occurred in a chemical plant in the early hours of 7 may 2020 in RR Venkatapuram village, Visakhapatnam District.
  • Styrene gas, which is toxic in nature affected people from the surrounding villages with more than 10 dead and thousands hospitalised.

Central government’s move:

  • The central government has been monitoring the situation closely and continuously and offered Andhra Pradesh all required aid and assistance to tackle the situation.
  • It was decided that a team from CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) unit of NDRF from Pune, along with an expert team of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur would be rushed to Visakhapatnam immediately.
  • It will support the State Government in the management of the crisis on the ground, and also to take measures for resolving the short term and also long term medical impact of the leak.
  • The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) team with CBRN personnel at Visakhapatnam was deployed immediately to support the State Government and local administration.

 Para-tertiary butylcatechol (PTBC):

  • After the catastrophic gas leak incident the Gujarat government has announced that it will send a crucial chemical named — PTBC — to Andhra Pradesh to neutralise the impact of the gas leak.
  • The chemical, PTBC — para‐tertiary butyl catechol (PTBC) is made in Vapi, in Valsad district in South Gujarat and is used to neutralise the impact of the gas leak and contain the spread.

Key facts on Styrene:

  • Styrene is a synthetic chemical that is used to manufacture synthetic rubber and plastic packaging.
  • The colourless liquid evaporates easily, and can be fatal if inhaled or ingested in high quantities.
  • High exposure can cause coma and pulmonary edema (chest swelling) while low and moderate exposure can result in burning sensation, skin irritation and affect the nervous system.
[Ref: PIB, Hindustan Times]

Safeguards to Chemical Disasters

The Styrene gas leak from LG Polymers factory situated on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh killed at least 11 people and affected over 2,000 residents of five villages in the vicinity.

A man carries a fainted young girl (R) to evacuate her following a gas leak incident at an LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam on May 7, 2020. – Eleven people were killed and hundreds hospitalised after a pre-dawn gas leak at a chemical plant in eastern India on May 7 that left unconscious victims lying in the streets, authorities said. Fears that the death toll from the incident on the outskirts of the Visakhapatnam, an industrial port city in Andhra Pradesh state, might rise significantly were not borne out however. (Photo by STR / AFP)

Safeguards against Chemical Disasters in India:

1. Bhopal Gas Leak (Processing of Claims) Act, 1985:

  • It gives powers to the central government to secure the claims arising out of or connected with the Bhopal gas tragedy.
  • Under the provisions of this Act, such claims are dealt with speedily and equitably.

2. The Environment Protection Act, 1986:

  • It gives powers to the central government to undertake measures for improving the environment and set standards and inspect industrial units.

3. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991:

  • It is an insurance meant to provide relief to persons affected by accidents that occur while handling hazardous substances.

4. The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997:

  • It is the Act under which the National Environment Appellate Authority can hear appeals regarding the restriction of areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

5. National Green Tribunal, 2010:

  • It provides for the establishment of a National Green Tribunal for effective and expeditious disposal of cases related to environmental protection and conservation of forests.

According to PRS Legislative:

  • Any incident similar to the Bhopal gas tragedy will be tried in the National Green Tribunal and most likely under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • If an offence is committed by a company, every person directly in charge and responsible will be deemed guilty, unless he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such an offence.
[Ref: Indian express]

Geographical Phenomenon

Surging glaciers in Karakoram Range

Scientists from Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology have found a seasonal advancement in surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Ladakh.

Major Highlights:

  • The seasonal advancement in 220 surge-type glaciers in the Karakoram Range of Ladakh has been detected through detailed assessment of using satellite images and thermal data.
  • The scientists focused on the Shispare and Muchuhar glaciers, former tributaries of the once larger Hasanabad Glacier situated in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.
  • ‘Surging’ or ‘Surge-type’ glaciers are a certain type of glaciers that have shown advancement in volume and length over a period of time.
  • The behaviour of these glaciers, which represent 40% of the total glaciated area of the Karakoram goes against the normal trend of considerable reduction in volume and length of most glaciers in the Himalaya in recent decades.
  • The team inferred that surge during winter is more hydrological controlled due to staggered subglacial flow and low amount of meltwater.
  • The surging terminates in summer due to channelized flow of meltwater and considerable heterogeneity in movement is also observed during summer and springtimes.
  • Surge movement produced the highest recorded Karakoram glacier surface flow rate and resulted in a glacier frontal advance of around 1500 m.


  • Surging of glaciers is potentially catastrophic as it can lead to the destruction of villages, roads and bridges.
  • It can also advance across a river valley and form an ice-dammed lake.
  • These lakes can form catastrophic outburst floods.
  • Therefore, monitoring of glacier surges, ice-dammed lake formation, and drainage is of paramount importance.


  • Subglacial processes and conditions like amount of debris, distribution of stored water, and temperature gradient are crucial to understand the diversity of surge-types and surge-like behavioural spectrum
  •  However, such information has been rare or unknown in the Karakoram, because ground-based observations are difficult to acquire.
  • The study will help to understand the diversity of glacial behaviour and help make accurate assessments of individual glacier mass balances for disaster planning and management.

Location of Karakoram Range:

  • The Karakoram is a mountain range spanning the borders of India, Pakistan and China with the northwest extremity of the range extending to Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
  • It begins in the Wakhan Corridor (Afghanistan) in the west and encompasses the majority of Gilgit-Baltistan (PoK) and extends into Ladakh (India) and the disputed Aksai Chin region controlled by China.
  • It is the second highest mountain range in the world after the Great Himalayas.
  • The range is spread over a length of 482 km, and it covers a tract 46 to 48 km broad.
  • Karakoram separates Kashmir from China, and South-central Asian States.
  • It also protects Kashmir from the extreme cold winds of Siberia.
  • The world’s second highest peak K2 (8611 m) is within this range.
  • World famous glaciers, the Siachen Glacier, Masherbroom and Gaisherbroom are also in Karakoram range.
[Ref: PIB]

Persons in News

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore

National Gallery of Modern Art will organise a Virtual Tour titled “Gurudev – Journey of the Maestro through his visual vocabulary” to commemorate the 159th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore. 

Facts about Rabindranath Tagore:

  • Rabindranath Tagore popularly known as Gurudev was born on 7th May 1861, in Kolkata.
  • He was the first Indian ever to receive a Nobel Prize.
  • Rabindranath Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for his collections of poems titled Gitanjali.
  • He is the only Indian to have received the honour in the Literature category.
  • To challenge the conventional methods of classroom education, Tagore founded Visva-Bharati University in Santiniketan, West Bengal.
  • Many classes in the university are still conducted under trees in open fields & it was declared a central university in May 1951.
  • Rabindranath Tagore was awarded a knighthood in 1915, but he renounced it on 31 May 1919 as a protest against the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre in Amritsar.
  • The national anthems of both India (Jana Gana Mana) and Bangladesh (Amar Shonar Bangla) were composed by Tagore.
[Ref: First Post]

Also in News

Vande Bharat Mission

Vande Bharat Mission is a repatriation mission launched by Indian government to bring back stranded Indians.

Major Highlights:

  •  Vande Bharat Mission is a massive evacuation operation to bring back Indians stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Mission is claimed to be the biggest repatriation exercise ever.
  • Under the Mission Air India flights will ferry out passengers stranded in India and on the return journey, these flights will bring back Indians stuck overseas.
  • Under the operation Air India will operate special flights from New Delhi, Cochin and Kozhikode and major cities to different countries.
  • A total of 2,300 passengers will be brought back in the first phase.
  • As per the Union Ministry of Home Affairs: a person who has an OCI card, or held the citizenship of a foreign country, or held a valid visa of more than one year of that country, or had the green card of that country, can travel on the repatriation flight leaving India under the Vande Bharat mission.
[Ref: Hindustan Times]

ICUBE report: active internet users surge in Rural India

Kantar, a leading data, insights and consulting company released its ICUBE 2019 report on digital adoption and usage trends in India.

Key findings:

  • Estimated at 574 million, the number of monthly active Internet users have registered an annual growth of 24% indicating an overall penetration of 41%.
  • The report projects 11% growth for 2020; estimates 639 million monthly active Internet users.
  • All monthly active Internet users use a mobile phone as one of the devices to access the Internet.
  • As per the ICUBE 2019 report, about 84% of users access the Internet for entertainment purposes.
  • 2019 witnessed a surge in OTT. The convenience of content availability across devices and on the go low-cost Internet service resulted in a significant growth in the entertainment consumption in the last year.
  • At 38%, the school-going children segment in the age group of 15 years or below has shown a promising growth in internet usage.
  • ICUBE 2019 reports a growth of more than 60% in the daily Internet users in the last one year; almost 9 out of 10 active internet users were accessing the internet daily owing to entertainment and communication needs.

Rural masses continue to propel India’s digital revolution:

  • India’s digital revolution continues to be propelled by the rural masses — Rural India registered a 45% growth in the monthly active internet users in 2019.
  • It is now estimated that there are 264 million internet users in rural India, and this is expected to reach 304 million in 2020.


  • IOT and Smart Devices will make the internet as much a household phenomenon as it is an individual phenomenon.
  •  The annual tracking study is considered to be the currency for digital adoption in the country, gauges the changing digital ecosystem in India, measuring Internet usage by demographic, activity and device segments.
[Ref: Exchange4Media]

Key Facts for Prelims

NSafe Mask

  • With face masks becoming mandatory to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, an IIT-Delhi start-up ‘Nanosafe Solutions’ has launched an antimicrobial and washable face mask ‘NSafe’.

The said mask is reusable up to 50 launderings, thus greatly cutting down the cost of use.

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